India has shot down one of its own satellites to demonstrate its military power. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the action establishes the country as a ‘space power.’
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The anti-satellite attack was part of a test of recently developed technology. In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Modi explained that India is only the fourth country in the world to have employed an anti-satellite weapon. India joins United States, Russia, and China on the list of anti-satellite equipped countries.
#MissionShakti is special for 2 reasons:— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 2019. március 27.
(1) India is only the 4th country to acquire such a specialised & modern capability.
(2) Entire effort is indigenous.
India stands tall as a space power!
It will make India stronger, even more secure and will further peace and harmony.
India flexes power
"A while ago, our scientists shot down a live satellite at a low-earth orbit. I congratulate all scientists who have made this possible and made India a much stronger nation," Modi said. India goes to the polls in April and May.
In the journey of every nation there are moments that bring utmost pride and have a historic impact on generations to come.
One such moment is today.
India has successfully tested the Anti-Satellite (ASAT) Missile. Congratulations to everyone on the success of #MissionShakti.— Chowkidar Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 2019. március 27.
Modi’s opposition says the timing of technology testing is political and they will look to submit a complaint with the electoral commission. A major opposition leader, Mamata Banerjee, said it was a gross violation of the electoral code of conduct.
"Today's announcement is yet another limitless drama and publicity mongering by Modi desperately trying to reap political benefits at the time of election," Banerjee, chief minister of West Bengal state and a potential prime ministerial candidate, said on Twitter.
There is no great urgency in conducting and announcing the mission now by a government past its expiry date. It seems a desperate oxygen to save the imminent sinking of the BJP boat. We are lodging a complaint with the Election Commission. 4/4— Mamata Banerjee (@MamataOfficial) 2019. március 27.
Space war threat looms
The ability to shoot down satellites is a concern for many observers of the rapid increase of space exploration in the last decade. The rise of private enterprise in space in combination with anti-satellite technology may potentially ignite a space war.
China responded to the news with a statement from their foreign ministry saying they hoped all countries “can earnestly protect lasting peace and tranquility in space.” The United States and Russia did not make a public comment on the attack.
India wants in on the space race
India has funded a space programme for many years. It allows private companies to send payloads to space on its rockets but has loftier ambitions. In December the government allocated $1.43bn for its first crewed space mission, set to be launched by 2022. The high-population country clearly wants to be a player in the global space industry.
In January India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO) launched an imaging satellite, Microsat-R, for India's Defence Research and Development Organisation and a student developed communication satellite called Kalamsat. ISRO has a large programmed designed to get students involved in space science.
— ISRO (@isro) 2019. január 23.
Space Kidz is a program that aims to involve high-school students closely with India's top researchers. Speaking to the media in January, ISRO chairman K. Sivan explained that three students from each of the 29 states and 7 union territories would be selected for training at ISRO Centers. They will have the opportunity to work closely with ISRO leading science and develop small satellites.